For many Americans, the idea of free handouts is … well, un-American.
But could this feeling change?
A variety of programs have sprung up across the country to offer monthly payments – without requirements or restrictions – to low-income people. A nonprofit group in San Diego became the latest city to join the growing list on April 6, when it was Announce the plans A project to make monthly payments of $ 500 to eligible beneficiaries later this year.
As you might remember, the idea of ”universal basic income,” or UBI, first appeared in any significant way in the early stages of the 2020 presidential race. Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang (now a candidate for mayor in New York) encouraged the idea of giving every adult American. Freedom “benefit” of $ 1,000 a month to use any way they like. Not surprisingly, both Yang and his central idea are often ignored.
But that was before the COVID-19 pandemic and billions of dollars in direct payments to Americans in the form of incentive checks.
Polls showed overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans alike for direct payments. In February, Prof. Quinnipiac Poll It was found that 78% of respondents supported the latest round of stimulus checks of $ 1,400. In March, Prof. Monmouth University Survey It also revealed that the payments are overwhelmingly supportive.
Mayors take action
In April 2020, Americans began receiving the first round of relief checks and payments, mostly for $ 1,200. Two months later, Prof. A group of sheriffs She joined forces to push for a guaranteed income. One of the ten mayors, Michael D. Using funds provided by donors, the Stockton Economic Empowerment Offer (SEED) sent monthly payments of $ 500 to 125 recipients for 24 months, without restrictions.
At the conclusion of the two-year program in February, a team of researchers launched report That lives up to a rave review. His preliminary results: Only a small percentage of the funds were used for non-essentials, and the grants didn’t seem to stop the work.
Proponents of guaranteed payments assert that they do not generate immutability, as opponents claim. Proponents also say that running these programs is much cheaper than running social welfare programs.
However, Stockton’s numbers are small. Opponents say there is enough evidence that they were not successful. A recent 2-year Guaranteed Income Pilot Project has been produced in Finland Less than convincing results. And conservative organizations like Heritage Foundation He argues that a similar device, the “negative income tax”, was tried between 1968 and 1980 with poor results – it failed to encourage recipients to be more productive.
However, there are also programs that have worked well in other countries. In Kenya, the charity Give directly It makes direct payments to 20,000 people in 245 rural villages, and the results are, by most accounts, positive.
Stanford University’s Basic Income Lab last year released a A comprehensive report I looked at a wide range of guaranteed income programs in the world and concluded that they generally helped reduce poverty rather than deter employment. However, the report also concluded that there is insufficient evidence from local enterprises to predict how universal basic income will function at the national level.
The numbers are increasing
We are a long way from a program like the national program Yang envisages, financed by taxes and spending cuts.
But the numbers of these small programs are constantly increasing. The first 10 mayors of their Guaranteed Income Group Expanded to 41. The group is lobbying Congress to offer more direct payments to people until the pandemic ends, and it is also providing money from private donations (Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey contributed $ 15 million) to help cities launch their own projects.
Almost a dozen cities are doing this or planning to do so this year. Usually, they set income and other criteria and select the beneficiaries via the lottery. In Richmond, Virginia, 55 working families no longer qualify for assistance but fail to earn a living wage that receives $ 500 a month for 24 months. In St. Paul, Minnesota, a Popular Prosperity Pilot Program offers $ 500 a month for 18 months to needy residents with children.
Critics say paying people to do nothing is a terrible idea – and that is the purpose of public assistance.
But supporters argue that with a massive wealth gap in the country and more and more jobs grabbed by automation and artificial intelligence, universal basic income is inevitable.
Perhaps the time for universal basic income has not yet arrived, and it may never. But perhaps these city programs offer a glimpse of what could happen.